If Apple introduces new iPhones in autumn, Qualcomm and Intel are expected to be the suppliers of the LTE modem again. Bloomberg reports this on the basis of persons familiar with the matter. The dual sourcing, however, has the effect that Apple must throttle the Qualcomm modem on Intel level.
Since the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (test), Apple in its smartphones no longer exclusively LTE modems from Qualcomm. The Intel XMM 7360, the fast LTE Advanced with up to 450 Mbit / s in the downstream allows, was broken. The modem is installed among other things in the devices A1778 and A1784 of the iPhone 7 (Plus) intended for the German market. All other versions of the Smartphone use the Snapdragon X12 (MDM9645) from Qualcomm. The dual-sourcing makes Apple less dependent on a provider (Qualcomm) and it helps in the procurement of huge quantities, which are needed for the iPhone.
Qualcomm modem performs better in LTE tests
The order of Apple is considered an important achievement for Intel, after all, a total of more than 210 million iPhones have to be equipped with LTE modems per year (2016). The fact that Intel does not yet have the expertise such as Qualcomm seems to have shown professional measurements about one month after the market launch of the iPhone 7, in which devices with Qualcomm modem through the bank have achieved a better LTE performance. Apple had to throttle the performance of the Qualcomm modem in advance, in order to push the LTE performance to the level of Intel. This is now again the case for the new Apple smartphones in the autumn.
Intel’s XMM 7560 is not ready yet
In fact, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X12 LTE Advanced delivers up to 600 Mbps in the downstream, Intel’s XMM 7360 but only 450 Mbps. Since two differently equipped model variants are not suitable for Apple, the Qualcomm modem had to be throttled on Intel level. According to Bloomberg, the Snapdragon X16, which is equipped with a sophisticated carrier aggregation and a new antenna layout for LTE Advanced Pro with up to 1 Gbit / s in the downstream, is to be used in the iPhone 7s or iPhone 8, according to Bloomberg. Intel is working with the XMM 7560 on a comparable solution, but according to Bloomberg is not yet ready for the serial production and use in the new iPhones.
Snapdragon X16 delivers 1 Gbps downstream
The first sampling of the XMM 7560 was originally to take place in the first half of 2017, with the start of mass production of the LTE modem, Intel counted a short time later. Apparently, the time window does not coincide with the start of the production of the new iPhones, according to Bloomberg, the XMM 7560 is not ready yet. Apple would therefore have to turn to the older XMM 7480, which still reaches the capabilities of last year’s Snapdragon X12. With the Gigabit devices of the competition, the Snapdragon X16 integrated into the Snapdragon 835 (test), Apple could therefore not keep up. It will be interesting to see whether the Qualcomm modem despite throttle still better.
LTE Advanced Pro as a bridge to 5G
However, the question arises of the extent to which LTE with gigabit speed is already required by the users, or whether 600 Mbps in the downstream or 150 Mbps in the upstream is at least absolutely sufficient this year. German mobile telephony providers such as Vodafone currently offer a maximum of 500 Mbps. However, LTE Advanced Pro represents an important bridge to 5G for all mobile telephony providers, which already exist parallel to 4G and will not be available as a replacement from 2020 onwards.